Determining Whether You Need a Custom Component or Renderer

The JavaServer Faces implementation supports a rich set of components and associated renderers, which are enough for most simple applications. This section helps you decide whether you need a custom component or custom renderer or instead can use a standard component and renderer.

When to Use a Custom Component

A component class defines the state and behavior of a UI component. This behavior includes converting the value of a component to the appropriate markup, queuing events on components, performing validation, and other functionality.

You need to create a custom component in these situations:

  • You need to add new behavior to a standard component, such as generating an additional type of event.

  • You need to aggregate components to create a new component that has its own unique behavior. The new component must be a custom component. One example is a date chooser component consisting of three drop-down lists.

  • You need a component that is supported by an HTML client but is not currently implemented by JavaServer Faces technology. The current release does not contain standard components for complex HTML components, such as frames; however, because of the extensibility of the component architecture, you can use JavaServer Faces technology to create components like these.

  • You need to render to a non-HTML client that requires extra components not supported by HTML. Eventually, the standard HTML render kit will provide support for all standard HTML components. However, if you are rendering to a different client, such as a phone, you might need to create custom components to represent the controls uniquely supported by the client. For example, some component architectures for wireless clients include support for tickers and progress bars, which are not available on an HTML client. In this case, you might also need a custom renderer along with the component; or you might need only a custom renderer.

You do not need to create a custom component in these cases:

  • You simply need to manipulate data on the component or add application-specific functionality to it. In this situation, you should create a backing bean for this purpose and bind it to the standard component rather than create a custom component. See Backing Beans (page 304) for more information on backing beans.

  • You need to convert a component's data to a type not supported by its renderer. See Using the Standard Converters (page 359) for more information about converting a component's data.

  • You need to perform validation on the component data. Standard validators and custom validators can be added to a component by using the validator tags from the page. See Using the Standard Validators (page 369) and Creating a Custom Validator (page 411) for more information about validating a component's data.

  • You need to register event listeners on components. You can either register event listeners on components using the valueChangeListener and actionListener tags, or you can point at an event-processing method on a backing bean using the component's actionListener or valueChangeListener attributes. See Implementing an Event Listener (page 408) and Writing Backing Bean Methods (page 418) for more information.

When to Use a Custom Renderer

If you are creating a custom component, you need to ensure, among other things, that your component class performs these operations:

  • Decoding: Converting the incoming request parameters to the local value of the component

  • Encoding: Converting the current local value of the component into the corresponding markup that represents it in the response

The JavaServer Faces specification supports two programming models for handling encoding and decoding:

  • Direct implementation: The component class itself implements the decoding and encoding.

  • Delegated implementation: The component class delegates the implementation of encoding and decoding to a separate renderer.

By delegating the operations to the renderer, you have the option of associating your custom component with different renderers so that you can represent the component in different ways on the page. If you don't plan to render a particular component in different ways, it's simpler to let the component class handle the rendering.

If you aren't sure whether you will need the flexibility offered by separate renderers but you want to use the simpler direct-implementation approach, you can actually use both models. Your component class can include some default rendering code, but it can delegate rendering to a renderer if there is one.

Component, Renderer, and Tag Combinations

When you create a custom component, you will usually create a custom renderer to go with it. You will also need a custom tag to associate the component with the renderer and to reference the component from the page.

In rare situations, however, you might use a custom renderer with a standard component rather than a custom component. Or you might use a custom tag without a renderer or a component. This section gives examples of these situations and summarizes what's required for a custom component, renderer, and tag.

You would use a custom renderer without a custom component if you wanted to add some client-side validation on a standard component. You would implement the validation code with a client-side scripting language, such as JavaScript, and then render the JavaScript with the custom renderer. In this situation, you need a custom tag to go with the renderer so that its tag handler can register the renderer on the standard component.

Custom components as well as custom renderers need custom tags associated with them. However, you can have a custom tag without a custom renderer or custom component. For example, suppose that you need to create a custom validator that requires extra attributes on the validator tag. In this case, the custom tag corresponds to a custom validator and not to a custom component or custom renderer. In any case, you still need to associate the custom tag with a server-side object.

Table 121 summarizes what you must or can associate with a custom component, custom renderer, or custom tag.

Table 121. Requirements for Custom Components, Custom Renderers, and Custom Tags

Custom Item

Must Have

Can Have

Custom component

Custom tag

Custom renderer or standard renderer

Custom renderer

Custom tag

Custom component or standard component

Custom JavaServer Faces tag

Some server-side object, like a component, a custom renderer, or custom validator

Custom component or standard component associated with a custom renderer

The JavaT EE 5 Tutorial
The JavaT EE 5 Tutorial
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